Bye bye, big sis!

Our weather remained unsettled until Tuesday morning, and the winds began clocking around to the prevailing easterly direction, with the opportunity to venture out in the dinghy to explore further cays. Still a bit bumpy for too far a run, we visited Sampson Cay, the beaches there and the sand flats between the cays. The flats dry at low tide, and are interesting to explore. The dogs have a great time slopping in the shallow water, chasing the birds, and generally being able to range as their humans search for treasures! Wednesday was a better opportunity, and we headed off for a longer run, heading up Pipe Creek. Our ride took us past Over Yonder Cay, where a wealthy owner has invested over $100M in development of a private compound, complete with triple redundant energy independence in solar, wind, and diesel generated power. The island has a huge central house, and a number of other houses, a dredged channel with basin, a huge boat house, and seaplane ramp. The amount of development on this single, privately owned cay is mind-boggling. Costs rival the entire budget of many small countries. All for a family getaway.

Further north, Pipe creek is flanked by cays with other private homes and development. Quite impressive, and a very beautiful area. One of the areas we had noted on charts was the abandoned Decca station. Developed late in WWII, and implemented commercially in the 50’s and 60’s, Decca, English company of recording fame, developed a system of radio beacons that enabled accurate position fixes. The intention was for use by aircraft, but ship traffic lated adapted the technology for use on the high seas. The technology utilizes land stations broadcasting a radio signal from a master and three slaves in a triangular pattern around the master. It is very similar to the US-based Loran system that saw use in the states until being shut down just a few years ago. DECCA chains never came in to use in the US due to governmental regulations that shunned the technology based on some well-placed lobbying efforts on behalf of US-owned competing technology. DECCA chains were in use around the world until the 70’s when the patent on the leased receivers expired, and the previous monopoly by DECCA lost profitability, thus the chains were eventually shut down. Pipe Cay is home to a DECCA master station that was manned into the 60’s. The slave stations were located in Georgetown, Golden Cay on Andros, and Governor’s Harbor in Eleuthera. The ruins of the installation as well as a long concrete bulkhead and large basin, remain. The “DECCA channel” is still delineated on the area charts. Cruisers are free to use the facility, and a couple we met during our visit had taken up residence there, and have called the dock home for over a month, clearing the brush and trash adjacent to the dock, and giving the huge cleats a coat of gold paint in keeping with the camp Decca (aka Deco) theme! We enjoyed exploring the ruins of the station, and imagining what life would have been like stationed in what, during the 60’s was a very isolated spot!

We also visited the cay just to the north of our anchorage, and explored the rugged rocky ridge, and found some interesting tidal pools behind the ridge facing the sound, or ocean side. The tidal pool elevation is a few feet higher than the surrounding water level, and we observed a variety of live in the pools. The area around Staniel Cay provides a huge variety of anchorages, and lots of opportunity to explore the many beautiful beaches and cays. Weather, of course is always a factor, but even short breaks provide plenty of opportunity for exploration, with destinations that can be isolated or more populated, depending on the area.

Thursday morning marked Jeri’s departure on the 9:30 Watermaker flight. We called by VHF to confirm the flight- “OK, you can just go right over to the airport if you want…” and a short dinghy ride to Iles’ General store put us within an easy walk of the terminal- or more appropriately the airport pavilion! Flight check-in is typical Bahamas style, the pilot has a list and checks passengers’ passports against his list, and you’re good to go after luggage is stowed in the belly of the aircraft. Very informal, and the flights are reliable, although not the least expensive. Jeri’s flight was right on time, and she was fortunate to have a clear day for the return flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We certainly enjoyed having her aboard!

Comments are closed.